A recent study found that people who were infected with COVID-19 are at increased risk of heart disease, even a year after their recovery from infection. The study, published in Nature Medicine, reviewed the health records of more than 150,000 U.S. veterans, and found that people with prior COVID-19 infections were 60% more likely to develop cardiac issues.
“There is a large spectrum of disease,” says Dr. Leslie Cooper, chair of the Department of Cardiology at Mayo Clinic in Florida. “Not only can you have the common heart attack, or blood clots in the veins or the lungs, but also less common diseases like myocarditis or pericarditis occur at a higher rate in patients who have had COVID-19.”
The study found that increases in cardiovascular problems were evident across different ages, races and sexes.
“Almost all of the complications from a cardiac standpoint were significantly elevated following COVID a year after symptom diagnosis in women and men, and all the age groups,” explains Dr. Cooper.
Research is underway to look at better ways to treat heart issues related to COVID-19 and alleviate the long COVID-19 symptoms.
“We think that because there are specific mechanisms at work, in the future we will be treating more specifically with anti-inflammatory therapies if inflammation is an ongoing cause of the symptoms,” says Dr. Cooper. “Multiple research studies are ongoing in this area.”
On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Cooper discusses cardiac complications from COVID-19.